Endangered sawfish focus of national collection and recovery efforts

December 1st, 2008

Photo available at: http://news.ufl.edu/2008/12/01/sawfish-multimedia/

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida, keeper of the world’s shark attack records, is also now overseeing a national records collection for another toothy marine predator: the sawfish.

Distinguished by a long rostrum or “saw” that makes it a popular curio item and gives it its name, the sawfish has become a historical and cultural icon that is rapidly disappearing, said George Burgess, a UF ichthyologist and curator of both the International Shark Attack File and the newly expanded National Sawfish Encounter Database.

“Postcards from the turn of the 20th century often depicted this so-called monster that inhabited Florida waters, and if one goes back and looks at newspaper accounts from places outside Florida, every time a sawfish was caught it made the papers,” he said. “Today, it’s difficult to find a bar in South Florida that doesn’t have a sawfish ‘saw’ hanging on the wall.” (more…)

Fla. Museum researcher receives $365,000 grant for butterfly conservation workshops

November 5th, 2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Imperiled butterflies across the U.S. may benefit in the coming years from a series of innovative workshops designed by a Florida Museum of Natural History researcher with over a decade of experience working to recover the endangered Miami blue butterfly in south Florida.

Jaret Daniels, assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, received $365,299 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in September. His winning grant proposes organizing and executing five training workshops over a three-year period through the Imperiled Butterfly Conservation and Management program.

“The intent of this program is to raise the bar for butterfly conservation,” Daniels said. “We’re targeting institutions that participate in butterfly conservation, or plan to do so in the future, but whose staff is limited by lack of information or experience; especially regarding techniques or methodologies for captive breeding and reintroduction of imperiled butterfly species.” (more…)

Rare fossil butterflies to be displayed during Fla. Museum ButterflyFest this weekend

October 15th, 2008

Editors note: A full schedule of events follows this release.

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History ButterflyFest visitors will have the opportunity this weekend to see four rare butterfly fossils not normally on public display.

The fossil butterfly exhibit is one of the many activities and workshops taking place during the museum’s annual butterfly festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Housed in the Florida Museum’s invertebrate paleontology collections, the specimens are four of about 50 known fossil butterflies in the world.

“Butterfly fossils are rare because they have extremely delicate exoskeletons,” said Florida Museum of Natural History Invertebrate Paleontologist Roger Portell. “Insect fossils are preserved under unique conditions.” (more…)

Florida Museum’s Randell Center completes Pineland tree planting program

April 23rd, 2008

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History’s Randell Research Center in Pineland recently completed a two-year program to plant more than 800 native trees.

Volunteers donated nearly $40,000 in labor costs to plant more than 30 species of trees at the state-owned Pineland archaeological site and at the Lee County-owned Gill House property, both of which are managed by the Randell Center.

“In 2004, Hurricanes Charley and Frances blew over many trees, and also scattered the seeds of invasive exotic trees, such as Brazilian pepper,” said Randell Center Director Bill Marquardt. “The aggressive non-native trees quickly began to transform the landscape. We received a grant for removal of the invasive plants as well as the purchase and planting of native trees. The result is a landscape that is more diverse, and that will be ultimately easier to maintain.” (more…)

Florida Museum’s display of new live African butterflies supports conservation Latest Rainforest arrivals complement upcoming ‘Inside Africa’ exhibit opening March 15

March 6th, 2008

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Grab a friend and head to the Florida Museum of Natural History where African butterflies are making a transatlantic debut in the Butterfly Rainforest. An added bonus? Your entry ticket helps conserve coastal forestland in Kenya.

The Florida Museum is testing the first arrivals from Africa now as it prepares for the “Inside Africa” traveling exhibit, which opens March 15 and runs through Sept. 7.

“This is the first time we’ve displayed African species, so we’re experimenting to see which ones will best survive the long journey and thrive in our Butterfly Rainforest environment,” said Tom Emmel, director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. (more…)

Fla. Museum sells reusable canvas bags as part of sustainability effort

February 18th, 2008

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History visitors can do more than buy butterfly souvenirs and natural history items on their next trip to the museum gift shops — they can help save the environment by purchasing a reusable canvas tote to use as an alternative to traditional grocery bags.

Florida Museum Associates Board members Phil and Barbara Emmer donated the bags after learning about the destruction caused by the production and use of normal supermarket bags.

“Plastic and paper grocery bags are causing terrible damage to the environment,” Phil Emmer said. “When Barbara learned about the horrible effects these bags have, she knew she wanted to take some sort of action.” (more…)

Advance ButterflyFest tickets now on sale for Oct. 13-14 event at Florida Museum

October 2nd, 2007

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History is now selling advance tickets to ButterflyFest, scheduled for Oct. 13-14.

The weekend butterfly festival, now in its second year, features a variety of activities for all ages including live entertainment, crafts and demonstrations, field trips and behind-the-scene tours, exhibits by area non-profit organizations, as well as vendors offering food and butterfly and garden gifts and plants.

“We’ve been receiving so many calls we decided to begin advance ticket sales now to help alleviate long lines during the weekend event,” said ButterflyFest co-coordinator Betty Dunckel. (more…)

Fla. Museum completes grant-funded native wildflower, butterfly education projects

June 26th, 2007

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently completed several major projects to help educate the public about the state’s native butterflies and wildflowers.

Funded with a $94,409 grant from the state of Florida, Florida Wildflower Advisory Council and the Florida Wildflower Foundation Inc., the “Educating the Public about Florida’s Wildflowers and Butterflies” project allowed the museum to create a new outdoor garden, indoor exhibit, web site and color brochure.

“The Florida Museum’s Butterfly Rainforest has generated considerable visitor interest in butterfly gardening,” said Florida Museum Center for Informal Science Education Director Betty Dunckel. “Our garden showcases Florida’s native wildflowers and their importance as host and nectar plants for our native butterflies.” (more…)

Captive-bred endangered Miami blue butterfly caterpillars to be released in Biscayne National Park

September 13th, 2006

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity will release several hundred captive-bred Miami blue butterfly caterpillars into the wild in Biscayne National Park on Wednesday Sept. 20, weather permitting. The release is part of one of the nation’s most productive endangered species breeding programs, developed to pull the Miami blue butterfly from the edge of extinction.

The State of Florida lists the nickel-sized Miami blue as an endangered species and the butterfly is one of the most imperiled insects in the United States. Florida Museum Lepidoptera researchers are working to recover the Miami blue to ensure it remains a part of Florida’s rich mix of native fauna.


McGuire Center presents public lecture by renowned ecologist

September 23rd, 2005

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity will sponsor a free public lecture at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2 in the J. Wayne Reitz Union Auditorium by world-renowned ecologist Daniel Janzen.

Janzen, the University of Pennsylvania DiMaura professor of conservation biology, will discuss “Conservation, caterpillar inventory and DNA barcoding of a large complex tropical wildland.” The lecture is free and open to the public.

Janzen has 50 years of experience as a tropical ecologist with an emphasis on preservation and biodiversity. With more than 400 publications on the subjects, he is considered an expert in the fields of tropical science administration and conservation biology. Janzen has received many awards throughout his career, including the first Crafoord Prize in biology by the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences (1984), the Kyoto Prize in Basic Biology (1997), and the John Scott Award of the City of Philadelphia for activities good for humankind (2003).


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